2001 Nobel Prizes  (NEW)
Chemistry:  Americans William S. Knowles and K. Barry Sharpless won the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Ryoji Noyori of Japan on Wednesday for molecular research used in making medicines. Their research deals with the fact that many molecules appear in two forms that are mirror images of each other, just like the left and right hands. Cells generally respond to only one of these forms, while the other form might be harmful. Drugs often use such mirror-image molecules and the difference between the two forms can be a matter of life and death.  The research has led to ways of making only the proper form of these mirror-image molecules. The technology has led to methods of creating medicines like antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medications, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in its citation.  (Reuters)
Physiology or Medicine:  The scientists were honored for their study of the cell cycle, the process by which a cell grows and divides. Along the way, the cell must duplicate its chromosomes and distribute them equally to the two new cells. When something goes wrong during cell division, it can lead to cancer, which is characterized by runaway cell division. The Nobel winners all discovered genes and proteins that regulate the cell cycle. The scientists' work is ``a major contribution to our understanding of a basic biological process that has profound implications for cancer research,'' said Helen Piwnica-Worms, a cell cycle researcher at Washington University in St. Louis.
Physics: The scientists created a new state of matter: an ultra-cold gas that could aid in developing smaller and faster electronics.  The advances are ``going to bring revolutionary applications in such fields as precision measurement and nanotechnology,'' or micro-machines, according to the citation by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

2000 Nobel Prizes
Physiology or Medicine:  In the human brain there are more than hundred billion nerve cells. They are connected to each other through an infinitely complex network of nerve processes. The message from one nerve cell to another is transmitted through different chemical transmitters. The signal transduction takes place in special points of contact, called synapses. A nerve cell can have thousands of such contacts with other nerve cells. The three Nobel Laureates in Physiology or Medicine have made pioneering discoveries concerning one type of signal transduction between nerve cells, referred to as slow synaptic transmission. These discoveries have been crucial for an understanding of the normal function of the brain and how disturbances in this signal transduction can give rise to neurological and psychiatric diseases. These findings have resulted in the development of new drugs.
Chemistry: for the discovery and development of conductive polymers
Physics: The researchers' work has laid the foundations of modern information technology, IT, particularly through their invention of rapid transistors, laser diodes, and integrated circuits (chips).